German COVID skeptics defy protest ban, scuffle with cops in Berlin

BERLIN — Thousands of anti-lockdown demonstrators defy a court-ordered protest ban and gather in the streets of Berlin, resulting in scuffles with police.

Police say some protesters “harassed and attacked” officers and ignored roadblocks, disrupting traffic in parts of the German capital.

“They tried to break through the police chain and pull out our colleagues. This led to the use of irritants, batons, and physical violence,” Berlin police tweets.

Several people were arrested, they add.

The protest was called by the “Querdenker” (Lateral Thinkers) movement, which has emerged as the loudest voice against Germany’s coronavirus restrictions.

Judges had banned several of its planned demonstrations this weekend, including one for today that was expected to draw some 22,500 people.

The court said it could not allow the rallies to go ahead over fears that participants would flout rules on mask wearing and social distancing, at a time when Germany’s infection numbers are on the rise again.

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